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The Mitey Fright!

Well, hello there arugula, don't mind if I do...
                                   ~Dolly

There once was a chicken with mites.
It gave the poor owner a fright.
For when she looked there,
Beneath chicken hair
She saw them there in broad daylight.
~ Tilly's Nest

 
Yes, indeed broody Dolly has them.  This is probably because she is broody and has not been dust bathing as usual and keeping up with the hygiene.  You know, those invisible eggs are pretty important to a broody girl!  Immediately, I dusted her with DE and sprayed her with the Poultry Protector.  So far she is the only one.  When I blew on her feathers, I saw five.  Yes, panic has set in!

Mind you, I have been incredibly vigilant about mites this year.  To say the least, upon this discovery, I went a little crazy!  First I dusted the entire run with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE).  Then I locked the girls out of the coop and gave it a nice cleaning.  Before, replacing the pine shavings, I sprayed everything down with Poultry Protector including the removable roosts.  I also sprinkled and dusted the entire coop with DE.  I replaced the pine shavings and dusted the nesting boxes with Nesting Box blend.  I even took it a step further and sprayed around the entire coop and it's entry ways with the Poultry Protector.  Can you believe that while I was cleaning the coop, I did not find one mite?

Then one by one, I grabbed each girl and dusted her under the wings and on her fluffy bottom with the DE before I even let them step foot back inside of the coop.  Oyster Cracker ended up getting the royal spa chicken treatment.  As she sometimes sleeps on the pine shavings instead of the roost, her fluffy bottom is not as pristine as the others.  Today, she ended up getting a bath and a nice warm blow dry with the hairdryer.  I also dusted her with DE for good measure once she was an adorable dry fluff ball!

Yes, I did go a bit crazy, but could you imagine how you would feel if mites were crawling and biting you?  I even found myself mentallly writing that silly limerick while working to keep me from getting the heebee jeebies!

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine



Oyster Cracker and Sunshine are my two Buff Orpingtons.  They have been together since they were one day old and have been inseperable ever since.  They truly are best friends and do everything together.  They eat, drink, sleep, scratch and dust bathe together.  They are never apart except for when they lay their eggs and even then, they always go in multiple times to check on each other.  They seem to be coaching each other with the process and sometimes, even impatiently wondering, "Are you done yet, I really want you to play with me!" 



These two girls are the sweetest chickens around.  They are incredibly mild mannered.  Our huge super sized chicken, Oyster Cracker's personality reminds me of a golden retriever.  I guess they both do in a way.  They love treats.  They love to sit on my lap and enjoy a good rub.  They love to nuzzle into the crick of my neck inhaling deeply all the while.  Oyster Cracker always sound like she has nasal congestion!

They are also my best egg layers.  These two lay everyday.  I can only recall a day or two when they have missed laying one of their edible art pieces!  Oyster Cracker's eggs are huge.  Probably because she is so huge herself.  She is like a chicken and a half.  Sunshine's eggs are normal sized, as she is the size of a typical chicken. 


They both sit right under Tilly in the pecking order.  I rarely see them have to assert their place in the flock like Tilly does.  Most of the others, just accept these two in their ranks.  I have never seen them peck the other girls, just an occasional squawk.  They also enjoy sleeping next to each other at night.  No matter how hot it is outside, they sleep with their wings touching.

Without a doubt, these two girls are best friends.  I have seen this incredible bond develop only between these two over the past year.  Incredibly, chickens are capable of friendships.  I do not need any scientific evidence to prove this.  At least in my flock, these two girls have given me all the proof I will ever need.


Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest

Sleep on Roosts, Lay in Boxes


Dottie Speckles 11 weeks
 Now that Dottie Speckles is 11 weeks old and Fifi is 14 weeks, I have been trying to get these two to sleep on the roosts at night.  Since the beginning of being transitioned into the large coop, they have been sleeping in the nesting boxes with Feathers and Dolly.  Two nights ago, I realized that this needed to change.

It needed to change for a few reasons but the one that was most important to me was keeping the nesting boxes free from chicken poop.  Okay, I know this is weird, but all my "grown up" chickens hold their poop until the morning.  Once outside, they all seem to pass their evening's accumulations.  Yes, gross, to talk about, but could it be that my chickens are potty trained?  If only it were so easy with little kids.  Does this ever happen to you?

Anyway, for the last two nights, when it was almost dark, I have opened the nesting boxes to find all the Silkies and Dottie Speckles snuggled together.  In fact, last night Feathers, Fifi, and Dolly were all in the same box!  Each night it is the same.  I gently lift all of them from the boxes and place them on the roosts.  They fuss all the while but I have yet to see them return to the boxes.  The best part is that this morning the nesting boxes were unsoiled. 

I am trying to avoid placing any sorts of cones or blockades in the nesting boxes for now.  I hope that they get the hint.  They say it takes 3 days/nights to change a behavior with children.  I wonder if the same thing goes for chickens?

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Giveaway: Eggcellent Sprout and Grass Kit for Chickens!


Our friends over at Treats for Chickens have graciously provided Tilly's Nest with our first giveaway! Treats for Chickens is a company in Northern California that grew from a passion of raising chickens over the years. They specialize in products for your flock that are wholesome, healthy, fun, non-toxic and eco-friendly. You have heard me rave about a few of their products that I love including the nesting box blend, their organic food grade diatomaceous earth and their pest pistol, now it's your turn to get in on the action.

This giveaway is for their Eggcellent Sprout and Grass Kit. This kit contains everything you need to grow delicious sprouts and grass for your feathered friends:

~Two tier sprouter with water reservoir

~4 packs of certified organic sprouting seeds: red winter wheat (2), buckwheat groats (1) and sunflower seeds (1). Over one pound of seeds enclosed - enough for 10-15 trays of treats

~Handy instructions, tips and suggestions.


Enter the Giveaway!

1. Visit Treats for Chickens, then come back and tell me about the product(s) that you would like to try with your flock and why. If you do not have a blog, please leave your email address so I can contact the winner.

2. Become a fan of Treats for Chickens and Tilly's Nest on Facebook and receive two extra entries.

3. Enter a third time by blogging or facebooking about this giveaway so that others can learn about this wonderful company that loves to spoil our flocks.

4. Followers of Tilly's Nest will get another vote.

Don't miss this terrific giveaway and your chance to earn 5 votes toward this fantastic kit. You're flock is going to love you for it! Good Luck!

This giveaway ends on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time. This item will only ship to addresses in the United States.


http://www.homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/

Soaking Wet

Two nights ago it was pouring out by 5 pm.  I was hoping when I went out to the coop, the girls would be safely tucked inside and dry.  However, that was not the case.  Standing there in the rain were Feathers, Fifi and Dottie Speckles; soaked.  As I was going out on a dinner date with my husband, I did not have time to go into the run and get muddied up retrieving them.  I threw a small towel over a portion of the run and hoped for the best.  I had heard terrible things can happen if you let your chickens get too wet from soaking rain.

I returned around 7:30 pm and the rain had subsided.  I changed my clothes and then ventured out to the coop area.  There were the three wet chickens in the same spots where I had left them, standing there like statues!  I can make sense of the fact that Dottie Speckles and Fifi were outside.  Feathers, I assumed was just being maternal.  She usually does not have a problem with the larger girls in the flock.

One by one, I caught them and wrapped them in warm dry toasty towels from the dryer.  Feathers absolutely LOVED it!!  She nuzzled right in against my body as my hands worked quickly to dry her off.  Her head feathers were soaked, completely covering her eyes. She was sopping wet from the rain.  However, the most interesting thing I noticed when I was drying her, was that when I peeked between the feathers, the downy portion underneath was completely dry.  The chickens, like ducks, have down.   After all, why wouldn't they?  I suppose all birds do.

The other two I dried with new warm towels.  They did not enjoy it as much.  At first, I think they were afraid.  I had never had to pamper either of them before.  The best part was hearing them talk to me.  Dottie Speckles, as large as she is, has a very high pitch peeping that still sounds like a baby chick, even now at 11 weeks.  On the other hand, Fifi, the most delicate little girl, has a rather deep alto like voice. 

As I was drying Fifi, she sounded her own version of the "chicken alarm".  Every single warm and dry chicken came out of the coop to see what was wrong.  The light rain did not stop them.  It was nice to see that they were concerned for this little girl at the bottom of the pecking order.  They had confirmed to me that she definitely is considered family. 

As I prepared to return Fifi to the coop, I had noticed that all the others had already ventured back inside the coop.  Then with a quick little nudge, I popped Fifi through the coop door and locked it, tucking everyone in the dry coop for the night.

Summer's Gardens at Tilly's Nest


 The warmth of summer is upon the gardens of Tilly's Nest.  It seems as though we have had a late start this year as compared to last.  The coral bells greet you at the gate as you begin to enter the gardens.


Early hydrangea blossoms begin to bloom and are dotted amongst the gardens.  Our soil tends to be quite acidic, so all of our hydrangea blooms have tinges of blue.


Subtle garden sculpture accents the blooms, such as this immortalized shell sculpture.


I am particularly fond of succulents given my Southern California roots.  Every chance I get, I incorporate them inside and out.


I love mossy clay covered pots and keeping a natural feel to the gardens.


In my succulent container garden, a bunny hides amongst the leaves.  At least, this one doesn't steal nibbles.


With the rain we have had the last few days, tiny clumps of mushrooms have popped up in the lawn.  I like to tell the children that fairies live amongst them.  Next month, we are going to create a fairy garden.


An oak leaf and pollen were dancing in the bird bath, as the daylily's leaves reflected in the water.


The foxglove has the most gorgeous little speckles peeking out from it's trumpetlike blooms.


The bees too are happy the rain is over, they have been very busy today.





Finally, as we make our way through the garden we reach Tilly's Nest.  The fennel and marjoram are growing nicely and the lovely flowering tree by the coop is done with its show of beautiful white little flowers.


I enjoy gardening very much and love the addition of backyard chickens to the gardens.  I believe that gardens and backyard chickens compliment each other beautifully.




Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest

Weasels

Terrible news has come from across town.  Three chicken coops have been invaded by a weasel and the flocks had been wiped out.  I got news yesterday from Viola that her flock was attacked in the night.  She had a mixed flock of about 20 girls.  Only 3 escaped harm.  When she arrived at her coop, she noticed bodies and feathers everywhere.  Thankfully, the children were not home.  Not knowing what to do or where to start, she ran to her neighbor's house.

Together, they began to clean up the coop and run.  As she was picking up the bodies, she had discovered that her beloved rooster, Dusky, was still barely alive.  Slowly dying, she held him.  He was probably responsible for saving the lives of her three remaining girls, her Hamburg and two buff Orpington pullets.  Dusky had always had a sweet spot in Viola's heart and now, he was near the end.  He passed on as Viola was desperately trying to reach her husband and physician friend to help ease Dusky's transition.

Thoughts are that the same weasel is responsible for Viola's tragedy.  The birds were left, no bodies were taken.  As I have been talking with Viola, she believes that the weasel was able to access the chickens through their pop-up door.  You see, Viola and her family are moving a few streets away.  She had been busily setting the new coop at her new location and the old home is now vacant except for the chickens out back.  The dog is away and so are her cats.  They are already at the new house.  The night of the attack, she did not lock the girls up. 

Viola's loss is a terrible reminder on how important it is to lock-up our flocks and do our best to prevent predators.  Weasels can be tough.  Even with doors locked, they can fit through 1 inch openings.  Please take the time today to examine and investigate any tiny openings in and around your coop and run that you have been meaning to fix.  Your flock's life may depend on it. 

Today, I am helping Viola to rebuild her flock.  Her remaining girls are safe in her garage.  She is taking the Hamburg to the vet today for a foot injury that most likely occurred in the invasion.  She is placing an order for new chicks and we will be taking a visit over to my friend's farm where she raises Silkies.  I am happy to be there for Viola who inspired me to take the first step on my own adventures with backyard chickens.

Viola's flock was featured back in January as my first Tour de Coop.

http://www.deborahjeansdandelionhouse.com/

You Might Have Mites on Your Backyard Chickens

The last few times when I have cleaned out the girls' coop each week, I have discovered a couple of mites in the litter.  I instantly got the heebee jeebees and thought that they were crawling all over me.  Then I thought of the poor girls.  How did they feel?  In the little research that I had done, I knew that most mites like to feed off the chickens at night when the girls are fast asleep.  A bad mite infestation can kill chickens due to anemia.  So, I decided to do some research and share with you what I learned.  I have blogged about mites in the past but never this quite extensive.  I hope you find this information useful.  Mind you, I have never seen a mite on my girls, probably due to my regular use preventatives, but that doesn't mean that they don't have them from time to time.

Two types of mites are the most prevalent in North America, the Northern Fowl Mite and the Chicken Mite.  The Northern Fowl Mite is often mistaken for the red mite.  For a few hours after feeding, it will appear red in color.  Otherwise, it is black.  This mite can be found on your chickens anytime of the day, where as the Chicken Mite is nocturnal.  The life cycle of the Northern Fowl Mite is 7 days.  Once eggs are laid, they hatch within 24 hours and the mites are fully grown at 4 days of age.  This is a very rapid cycle that can lead to an infestation of mites with a matter of weeks.  A bad enough mite infestation can lead to pale combs and even feathers can be soiled with mite excrement especially around their vents.

Chicken Mites are also known as red mites, gray mites and roost mites.  They can live in the human home.  These mites can also lead to anemia, causing pale wattle and combs.  Sometimes chickens will refuse to lay in nesting boxes infested with mites.  These mites easily kill young chickens and broody hens.  As these mites are nocturnal, you will not find them on your chickens during the day.  Instead, during daylight hours, they hide in the nooks and crannies of your coop.  Chicken mites once laid grow to adulthood by day 10.  These mites can live in a vacant chicken coop for up to 5 months.  They can survive that long without a host.

So what can you do?  First, it is important to assess your flock for mites once a week in the summertime.  Hot weather helps mites proliferate.  I found this handy mite reference below.  This test should be done for each chicken in your flock.  While holding your bird, blow on the feathers to reveal the skin and count how many mites you see.  This will give you an idea of your infestation level. Here is a detailed post on how to check for mites and what they look like.

5 mites counted = possible infestation per chicken 100 to 300 mites
6 mites counted = possible infestation per chicken 300 to 1,000 mites (considered light infestation)
7 mites counted = possible infestation per chicken 1,000 to 3,000 mites - tiny clumps of mites seen on the skin and feathers (considered moderate infestation)
8 mites counted = possible infestation per chicken 3,000 to 10,000 mites - very visible mite population seen on skin and feathers (considered moderate to heavy infestation)
9 mites counted = possible infestation per chicken 10,000 to 32,000 or greater quantity of mites - many large clumps present on skin and feathers accompanied with scabbing (considered heavy infestation)


Prevention is always key.  Here are some tips to prevent mites from harming your flock:

1.  Keep a clean coop. Do a deep cleaning of your entire coop.

2.  Utilize products such as food grade diatomaceous earth and nesting box blend in the coop and nesting boxes. Plant fresh pest repelling herbs around the coop and run or dry them for your boxes. Learn all about chicken safe and beneficial herbs here and how to dry them.

3.  Treat any affected birds.  

  • Dust your flock, coop, and nesting boxes with food grade diatomaceous earth. Cover your mouth and nose to avoid inhaling the dust products and also avoid the head of your chickens. 

  • Manna Pro's Poultry Protector-can be applied directly to chickens, no egg or meat withdrawal period
  • Carbaryl (Sevin Garden Dust)- Click here for directions. Do not use 10% on poultry. Should not be used in nesting boxes. UPDATE: As of spring 2013 its use on animals has been revoked. Avoid Sevin Dust. Older labels deemed it safe for pets and now that information has been removed from current labeling due to the fact that it has caused cancer and reproductive health issues in laboratory animals. As there are alternatives, I would try other methods prior to using Sevin dust.
  • Coumaphos- Click here for more information.
  • Malathion-avoid waterers, feed troughs, do not apply to birds. Click here for directions.
  • Rabon- Click here for more information
  • Boric Acid- NOT recommended.  Read why here.

4.  Promote your flock to take dust baths.

5.  You can also carefully dust your chickens with food grade diatomaceous earth avoiding both their faces and yours.  Take caution to avoid breathing in the dust.

6.  Dust your roosting poles with food grade diatomaceous earth.

Some people use the food grade diatomaceous earth or wood ashes to treat mite infestations.  Poultry Protector is also another easy natural technique to treat the mites.

Avoid applying Frontline products or similar topical pest repellent products used on dogs and cats. Studies have shown that these chemicals are present in the eggs and dairy products when used on livestock. There are other options. I myself would not want to eat those eggs or feed them to my family.

Please visit this past post for photos, detailed tips on cleaning your coop and using diatomaceous earth with your flock.

Now, go check your flock!

Learn more about backyard chicken pests in these other posts by Tilly's Nest: poultry lice, fleas and chickens, ticks, and scaly leg mites.

Information for this post as well as more information on mites can be found here.

Rogue Eggs


Today its raining on the Cape.  It has been cloudy all day with occasional showers from the skies.  I went to check for eggs this afternoon and I found Dolly and Autumn both sitting in adjacent boxes.  Dolly was sitting on two eggs and Autumn was sitting on air.  Then in front of the nesting boxes, lay 2 rouge eggs.  The buff Orpingtons were also in the coop.  They went back and forth, staring at the two Silkies in the nesting boxes then staring at the eggs.  They must have been thinking, " Not this again!".  Funny, the same thing crossed my mind.  Yes, I had been waiting for Autumn to become broody since she was the last of the Silkies that had yet to this Spring.  However, Dolly is now, once again broody.  This will be the fourth time since December.  She was an excellent mother this Spring, but as Chocolate is no longer with us, her chances at motherhood are no more.

So, how do rouge eggs get there anyway?  I am not sure what exactly happens.  I guess this is where a coop cam would come in handy!  Sometimes these eggs are warm and sometimes they are stone cold.  Sometimes they are the Silkie eggs and sometimes they are from one of the larger girls.  They are never broken and I have been finding them everyday for the last 5 days.

I have seen the broody girls attempting to roll eggs from adjacent nesting boxes into their own.  I also have seen the chickens higher up on the pecking order, evict the broody hens from their preferred nesting box when they are ready to lay.  Could it be that sometimes the hen that is ready to lay her egg clears the nesting box of any preexisting eggs?  All I know, is that there is an awful lot of confusion over these rogue eggs from the Buff Orpingtons and myself.  I wonder if this mystery will ever be solved?

Happy Birthday

Today our original flock is 1 year old.  We decided to bake an apple peanut butter cake with yogurt frosting topped with fresh strawberries and a sprig of mint.  The kids were very eager to help this morning.   The ingredients were incredibly simple.  I must say, it was not that easy finding a cake recipe without sugar. 



We started out preheating the oven to 350 degrees and then cut an apple into tiny little pieces.  We decided to leave the skin on because it was for the chickens.


Next we added flour and baking powder, water and peanut butter and combined well.


We sprayed a non-stick cake pan with cooking spray and then shaped it into a small circle. 


While the chicken cake was baking, we sliced up a strawberry and picked some mint from the garden. 




Once the cake finished baking, we removed it from the oven to cool and transferred it to a plate. 



Next we spread the organic plain yogurt on the top.  This would serve as frosting.



Finally, the kids put the strawberries on top and my son finished it off with the sprig of mint.



 Next, we went outside to see the girls.  They were very excited!  As I placed the cake on the ground they could not wait.  Of course, there was a delay in giving it to them.  I, as always, split everything in two.  I do this to be sure that any treats are spaced far apart to ensure that all chickens get a taste, even those on the bottom of the pecking order.


Finally, we placed the cake in the run.  Everyone was very happy!  They seemed to love it!  In fact, there was such a frenzy that it was very difficult to take some pictures.










The girls really had a nice time.  Even broody Autumn came out to see what the fuss was outside the coop.  We checked for eggs and found some really beauties.  Here is what we saw when we opened the nesting box lid.


Tilly's Nest Birthday Cake for Chickens

1 apple--chopped into small pieces
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup plain organic yogurt
2 sliced strawberries
1 sprig of mint
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, water, peanut butter and baking powder.  Mix until well combine.  Next, mix in the apples.

Spray a baking pan with cooking spray then shape the cake batter onto the pan in a circular shape about 1 inch thick.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Top with yogurt, strawberries and mint.



Photo credits:  Tilly's Nest

Party Planning

Tomorrow our original flock, Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine and Feathers, will be one year old.  I can not believe that one year has passed since these feathered beauties entered our lives.  We view our girls as pets with "livestock benefits"--eggs.  We also continue to be grateful for all of their beautiful wisdom, their lessons about life and their entertaining antics.  All this really got me thinking, we should throw a party.

I have heard of people throwing parties for dogs but not chickens.  I know the least I want to do is make them some sort of birthday cake.  I headed over to Backyard Chickens and went into their forum.  Wow, unbelievably, up popped all sorts of links on creating birthday cakes for chickens.

Apparently, they need to be sugarless and you can base them off of cakes that you make for dogs.  I found great yummy recipes for a few different ones.  I am thinking about a sugarless corn cake, frosted with plain yogurt and topped with some fresh berries.  I think the girls will love it!  Hopefully, Tilly will share. 

Today is the last day of school for the kids.  So, I will get them in on the party planning this afternoon.  I can't wait to tell you all about our chicken birthday party tomorrow.



http://www.homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/

Tilly


Tilly, the Australorp, is our head hen.  As a day old chick, she was the largest and the smartest.  She was also one of the hardiest girls.  Today, she is not the biggest, but she definitely rules the roost.  She has a very sweet nature about her.  She loves to be held and will even nestle into your neckline between your shoulder and your ear.  I love it when they do that!

She also loves to talk.  It seems as though she is constantly talking.  In fact, I recognize her voice from the other hens and often talk to her when I am on the other side of the yard.  She has a very low sweet song that she sings.  The chorus is always the same and she mixes up the verses.   She is especially talkative as she lays her eggs.  From the coop, she provides all those around with a play by play account of the entire process.  I try my best to talk chicken back to her.  She cocks her head from side to side like a puppy.  Her wattles swing back and forth.  O, how I do wish we truly could understand each other.

She is obedient.  She recognizes me as the chicken mom.  When I need to pick her up, she never runs away from me.  She may not feel like going in, but always remains calm in my arms.  She understands the hierarchy.  She also knows that when I am not around, she is in charge.  She rules a tight ship.  She constantly ensure that everyone is in line and knows that she is the boss.  I imagine it must get tiring for her. Though, she seems to love it.  As she is the boss, she always gets first dibs at the treats.  I purposefully scatter treats over the entire run, but she always gets the prime pieces.  If someone else has something that she wants, she gets it and typically without much of a squabble. 

Finally, I find that she is the one that everyone wants to sleep next to at night.  Usually, she is sandwiched between the two Buff Orpingtons.  She tells the flock when it is time to roost.  However, the most interesting thing that I read and can tell you to be true of Tilly, is that when she free-ranges, she never ventures too far from the coop.    Apparently, Australorps don't like to be too far from home.  As the head hen, the girls follow Tilly's lead.  This is very nice as I never have to look to far to find them.

Photo credit:  Tilly's Nest

A Visit from the Mailman


On the way to lay an egg

Yesterday, I forgot to get the mail.  I remembered this as my daughter and I were out feeding the chickens their mid-morning snack.  No sooner had we journeyed down to the mailbox, that we heard the whirring motor of the mail truck.  I had not yet met this driver.  I suppose because it was Saturday after all. 

As he pulled up, my daughter was holding yesterday's mail.  He smiled as he saw us.  I greeted him with a warm smile and an outward arm for the mail.  Then, he asked if we kept chickens!  I was a bit taken off guard but welcomed him up to meet the girls.  He quickly turned off his engine and got out of the truck.

Tuck the tail to get into the nesting box

As we strolled up the driveway, he had told me that he has always wanted to get chickens.  We spent about 10 minutes together.  I gave him a very quick lesson in backyard chickens and answered all of his questions.  I also gave him the Keeping Backyard Chicken handbook that I worked on as a board member of the Agricultural Commission and told him about My Pet Chicken.

He also got to meet the girls.  One by one we introduced him to the flock.  Overall, I think he was impressed.  He is putting his order in for chicks today!

  
Roosting after "delivering" her egg to us.
Photo credits:  Tilly's Nest

Tour de Coop: Deb in Plymouth




As I walked up the gentle slope of Deb's garden, my eye caught a glance of her barn red chicken coop tucked quietly into the corner of the backyard.  As I find most chicken coops blend in beautifully with the backyard setting, Deb's too seemed like it had been there forever, just a part of her cottage garden.

 
As I approached the coop, I was instantly struck by it's beauty and creativity.  The front of the coop was created with a found window.  It allows visitors to peek in at the chickens and see what is going on in the coop.  In fact, one of her girls was sitting on her eggs as we took a look.


The wonderful thing about Deb's place is her imagination, her creativity and her garden whimsy.  Her clever creative touches are noticed everywhere, from the antique tea pot brewing nasturtiums to the vintage white pedestal sink now cascading with flowers.



Two year old Max was along for the tour as well.  He is a Welsh Corgi and has never harmed her chickens.  In fact, bred and raised to herd, when he does get a chance to "play" with her girls, he usually herds them into one location, patiently waiting for Deb to come and praise him for his work.



Deb and her family started to keep backyard chickens five years ago as part of a homeschooling project.  She originally started out with eight girls, however due to a neighbor's dog, she unfortunately lost the majority of her flock.  Heartbroken, she has just added to her flock this Spring with 11 new girls.  She also now keeps them safely in the run. 


Overtime, Deb has come to prefer Wyandottes and Ameraucanas.  These breeds have proven to be incredibly hardy living in New England.   All of her girls have been named by her and her children.  The names suit her girls and some are old family names now passed on to the chickens. 




Mario, Ducky, Heartley, Tweety, Penelope, Steve, Lucille, Gladys, Chestnut, Lacy Lou, and Stripey include these 10 week old Ameracaunas at the feeder. 


Even the coop has Deb's sweet thoughful touches.  Each nesting box is wallpapered and features a chicken friendly print.  Her girls are spoiled!  No details have been spared.


 When Deb's Golden Laced Wyandotte finally did come off of her nest to meet my daughter and I, we decided to sneak a peek and see just what she was sitting on.



She quickly returned to the coop, as she knew that we had discovered her secret.  Six beautiful lightly colored pink and brown eggs.




She watched us for a while and she was not too happy about Deb removing her eggs.  She searched each and every nesting box looking for her eggs.   


 Deb also shared with me her creative and very smart way to store her chicken supplies.  You would only assume as you opened the far left nesting box that it would be filled with pine shavings.  Instead, it is sealed off and stores food and chicken supplies. 


Shortly as we finished making our way around the coop, the rain showers started to fall from the sky.  It was time to go in and have a refreshing beverage and continue our chicken talk at Deb's charming kitchen table.

If you would like to see my other Tour de Coops click on the link below:

To see more of Deb's wonderful creations, please visit her blog as listed below.  Deb also writes for Mary Jane's Farm.

 
Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest


http://www.deborahjeansdandelionhouse.com/